Thursday, February 11, 2016

Reconciling the Old and the New (Testaments)

Last year, I read the One Year Bible.  It is divided into manageable sections with reading from the Old Testament, the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs each day.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and looked forward each day to my Bible time.  In fact, it was such a boost to my spirit each day that I got another One Year Bible, this one in chronological order.  

The only thing I sometimes have trouble with is reconciling the God of the Old Testament to the God of the New Testament.  While His behavior appears inconsistent when only studied at a superficial level, when I began to dig deeper, the differences in behavior actually made perfect sense.

For example, one must consider the context in which each part of the Bible was written.  Come Reason Ministries says, "one point we note is that the commands of God are addressed on a national level. Here God is instructing Israel as a forming nation."  Many of the Old Testament admonishments were directed at the entire nation, not as individuals.  Conversely, Jesus's teachings about God and what God wants for the world are on a personal level rather than a national level.  Come Reason Ministries states that Jesus's admonitions "...are guidelines for how we can be more loving to our fellow human beings and they help instill a spirit of selflessness in our individual characters."

I really love the way Carl Olson, editor for Our Sunday Visitor, explains this need for reconciliation by reminding us that, "One essential problem here is quite simple: there are not two Gods — one of the Old Testament and one of the New Testament — but just one God...the Old and New Testaments are not in competition with one another, nor do they tell two different stories, but are intimately connected to each other, forming a long and continuous whole. And that whole — what we might call salvation history — is held together by God’s revelation of himself. "  Similar to the previous source, he also states, "readers must put forth some effort to comprehend just how different the ancient Middle Eastern cultures, morals and attitudes were from our 21st-century situations and perspectives."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               So, while I don't begin to understand everything about God and the Bible, I do understand more than I did previously.  I only included small samples from these sources, but reading them in their entirety opened my eyes and helped me understand a very complex concept.

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